5 Seemingly Crazy Productivity Tips That Actually Aren’t

Wrong Way sign on chain-link fence

There are a lot of productivity tips out there, and while quite a few of them are based on the same basic tenets, sometimes you need to go a little left of center to find something that works for you.

Most people are trained to avoid each of the five habits below like the plague. But as you’ll see, sometimes you need a little wrong to do a lot of right.

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Get Into Email First Thing

Your email volume is probably directly proportional to how busy you are. The more you have to do, the more emails you have to talk about it.

Mac laptop on table with breakfast

Since emails usually pile up in the off hours, the going idea for productivity is to avoid them first thing and get right into the work of the day, not letting emails derail you so early on. While sites like Lifehacker and even the Huffington Post report on the pitfalls of checking email at the start of your day, it can actually be a really good thing.

Instead of thinking that email will consume you if you look at it, keep the idea that email is a tool, and like any tool it must be used properly or else it’ll give you a headache. Use a system like the Trusted Trio and you’ll be able to zip through and categorize your email quickly and easily, allowing you to see any fires that need to be put out, and in a few minutes you’ll be on to what’s really important.

Take On an Impossible Task

When you’re in a meeting or talking to a client and you hear something you know is completely impossible, your first reaction is most likely to alert everyone involved of this and move on to a more realistic request or project.

Impossible Project No. 40: Resist Shaking a Polaroid Picture

While on the surface this is a solid approach to take when thinking about deadlines and workload, it’s actually a good thing to take on a seemingly impossible task every now and then.

Think of this like building a muscle. When you work on something that you know is impossible to do, you’re telling your brain that even the impossible can possibly be done. Your brain works with some basic ideas of what is possible and not, and by forcing yourself to think of the impossible, you grow your abilities.

And who knows? You may just achieve something you thought you couldn’t do.

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Give Up

In his book “The Dip,” Seth Godin talks about an idea he calls, well, the Dip. In short, this is the idea that while there will always be hard times and there will always be success, the important thing is to know the difference between adversity that leads to success and that which leads to more failure.

To stay productive, you need to know when it’s worth sticking it out through the Dip with an idea or client, and when there is no Dip, only a long downhill free fall.

Knowing when to quit is very important, as giving up on a failing idea or project can free you up for more important tasks.

Work on a Nearly Empty Laptop Battery

Before most of us start working, we charge our phones, iPads, cameras, remote controls, and finally our laptops.

Closeup of Apple menu bar indicating that laptop battery is almost out of power

The idea is that if everything is at 100% charge when we start, there will be fewer interruptions and you’ll get more done. While this is a great idea on the surface, it can actually inhibit your productivity and hurt your day, too.

If you had only one hour of laptop battery left, would you risk not getting your work done to peruse Facebook or send some tweets? Probably not, which is why leaving your battery on a low charge can give you that sense of speed and just enough nervous energy to get something important done.

Only have an hour to get those emails sent out? You’re guaranteed to get them done if that’s all the battery you have left.

SEE ALSO: Use Evernote to Organize Your Life

Welcome Failure

This last crazy productivity tip goes against just about everything you’ve ever been taught.

When you were in elementary school and you spelled a word wrong in the spelling bee, you weren’t told to celebrate that failure, and it’s a pretty safe bet that your parents never threw you a party for getting an F on a big test. Yet that’s exactly what you need to do in your adult life.

Listen, we will all experience failure at some point. Whether it’s from an error you make or something that’s completely out of your control, mistakes and failures happen.

You need to quit avoiding failure and instead look at it for what it really is. Failure is just one degree off from success. When you figure out what it is that went wrong, you nearly guarantee success the next time around.


While all these tips seem crazy and may run 100% counter to what you’ve been told, it’s often the craziest approach that gets the most done. Try a few of these productivity tips and see which of them help you.

No one ever got very far by always following every rule. Just look at the ideas and approaches that Steve Jobs employed at Apple and see how being different really is a good way to get more done.

(Header image courtesy of flickr)

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